TALENTED pupils from Droitwich Spa High School played to a near capacity crowd at the opening of the town's annual arts festival.

Pupils took the stage in St Andrew's Church for the opening of Droitwich Spa Arts Festival 2017, after a swift move from the church gardens to avoid the threatened rain.

The school chamber ensemble opened proceedings with Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ followed by excerpts from Handel’s ‘Water Music’, played to mark the 300th anniversary of its premiere.

The school jazz band then performed a number of original and more familiar pieces, featuring improvised saxophone solos by Joe Harrison.

The recently formed school saxophone quartet gave a lively performance of ‘Welcome Dance’ by Karen Street followed by an arrangement of ‘The Pink Panther’ by Henry Mancini.

Two student led groups also took the stage - ‘The Improvs’, a mixed year group ensemble featuring Amy Deane (vocals), Charlotte Mortimer (vocals), Eleanor Bradley (vocals), Vicki Embleton (clarinet), Joe Harrison (alto sax), Tom Griffiths (cello) and Kanon Misawa (percussion) gave a moving rendition of Sam Smith’s ‘Stay with Me’ while the ‘Shakespeare Boyz’ (George Forrester on bass, Joe Harrison on keyboards, Toby Barker on vocals and Evelyn Gill on vocals and ukulele) performed their own rousing version of ‘Riptide’ by Vance Joy.

There were also solos and duets by Tom Griffiths (cello), Eleanor Bradley (vocals and piano), Charlotte Morton (vocals), Kanon Misawa (saxophone), Jade Parkins (vocals) and Jack Degenkolb (piano) and Evelyn Gill (ukulele and vocals).

Head of creative arts at Droitwich High, Nick Wardle, said: ‘It was a great pleasure for us to perform on the opening day of Droitwich Spa Arts Festival in such a wonderful venue.

"I am very proud of our students as they have demonstrated both a commitment to rehearsing regularly and an eagerness to get up on stage and show what they can do.

"Music, and the arts in general, gives youngsters an opportunity to develop skills that are valuable later in life.

"The confidence, communication skills and maturity that our students have shown consistently throughout this year of rehearsals and performances has been very impressive."